Going Beyond Code

Beyond the energy codes are stretch, green, or sustainable codes and associated labeling programs.

Codes are written to lend themselves to mandatory enforcement as regulations, while rating systems are written to lend themselves to being adopted and applied in a voluntary manner. However, in recent years, stretch, green, or sustainable codes or rating programs have been adopted as either mandatory or voluntary by local jurisdictions, states, or federal agencies. Building energy is an important feature of these codes and programs and may include design elements such as green roofs, orientation, siting, and hardscape features.

Progressive states and local jurisdictions with a focus on energy efficiency and/or sustainability are increasingly building upon the baseline energy codes and adopting beyond-code programs either as their minimum codes or as a component of a program that provides incentives to those who comply. The programs are referred to in various terms—green building programs or codes, stretch codes, above-code programs, and beyond-code programs.

Four key components are associated with going beyond the energy code. These aspects can be increased beyond the minimum code: the scope of the buildings covered, the minimum requirements, the scope of building components covered, or the timeframe within which compliance is verified.

Relationship Between Beyond-Code Programs and the Baseline Energy Codes

Designers, builders, plan review and inspection staff, and all interested parties still need to thoroughly understand the requirements of the underlying baseline energy codes when working with a beyond-code program.

Going Beyond Codes

Most beyond-code programs use the IECC and/or ASHRAE Standard 90.1 as a baseline upon which to build. Jurisdictions are both mandating these programs and offering incentives to those who voluntarily comply. They vary widely in scope—from a specified percentage improvement in energy efficiency above the baseline code to comprehensive programs that outline specific design, construction, commissioning, and/or operational requirements.

Beyond-code programs can serve as a proving ground to make efficiency improvements in the baseline codes. Building energy-efficient materials and methods that are included in beyond-code programs are often submitted as proposed enhancements to the IECC or ASHRAE Standard 90.1. BECP’s Going Beyond Code resource guide provides recommendations and guidance for the successful adoption and implementation of beyond-code programs.